Jones a Needed Fresh Face

For much of the spring and summer, many wondered if Chad Jones would even show up on campus after he was selected by the Houston Astros in the 13th round of Major League Baseball's most recent draft.

As the days turned to weeks and then months without Jones inking a deal, anticipation continued to grow. Ultimately, Jones found his way to Baton Rouge, participated in summer workouts and, as the boys of summer played on, remained focused on starting this fall in a football uniform. His perseverance is already paying off as a true freshman.


Through the Tigers' first five games of the season, Jones has seen action in each game. In LSU's first four contests, he came in as a reserve and notched three tackles twice. All totaled, he has been credited with seven tackles, five of them solo, and has shown some inkling as to why he was so highly touted coming out of East St. John High School. Against Tulane, there were a few more flashes of what his future as a Tiger will be.


Jones may not have been a starter on defense against the Green Wave; but in a game that was surprisingly in doubt until late in the third quarter, he was the one put on the field first to ensure Tulane's punts would be adequately handled.


"Chad (Jones) got a couple of opportunities to return punts and looked like he got loose with one," LSU Head Coach Les Miles said. "He's pretty comfortable with fielding the ball. I'm not saying Jared Mitchell's not going to get some opportunities there; reason is he was a little bit nicked up. We feel like his health will be returned here pretty quickly. I liked what I saw from Chad. He's still made some errors in judgment – fair caught a little bit too quickly, and we have to make sure that he's on task there."


Following two consecutive weeks in which Mitchell did struggle at times fielding kicks cleanly, Jones got the nod for the bulk of Tulane's 10 punts. He hauled in three. Although none were returned for more than 11 yards, Jones accomplished the arduous task of making certain he didn't lose any of Ross Thevenot's boots in the lights or cavernous ceiling of the Louisiana Superdome.


Much like many of the positions on LSU's team this season, punt returner has sort of become a group effort. First there was running back by committee, then a pick-em to see who would lead the Tigers in receiving, then the two quarterback rotation, and now the job of punt returner is being divvied up. In game number five, Brandon LaFell became the first LSU receiver to have a second game as leader. Against Mississippi State, Early Doucet was taking punts. Against Virginia Tech, no one actually fielded a punt, but Doucet was back there again to start. Against Middle Tennessee State, Mitchell was called upon. Against South Carolina, Mitchell got the nod again.


Holding onto the ball has been a problem for Mitchell, however, and it was evident last Saturday that someone else needed to have an opportunity. The duty fell to Jones.


Trindon Holliday, it should come as no surprise, was also back to receive punts late against the Green Wave. Holliday gave the Tigers some help on offense also. Jones eventually had chances to make plays on defense versus the Green Wave. To go along with his two tackles, including one for a loss of 2 yards, Jones also added a PBU to his résumé against Tulane.


After a four-play, 44-yard drive gave the Tigers a 34-9 lead with 8:49 remaining in the final quarter, Tulane began its 13th possession on its own 21-yard line. The Green Wave managed to move the ball out to its own 41-yard line before the drive quickly stalled.


Faced with a third-and-13 from his own 38-yard line, Tulane's Kevin Moore let fly a pass that was broken up by Jones. Even if the catch had been made, the result would not have given the Green Wave a first down. Even if Tulane had converted and gone on to score, the outcome of the game would not have been changed. But the fact that Jones did manage to force an incompletion at that point in the game showed that his motor was still running, was a testament to the type of player he is, and demonstrated that there isn't any quit in him. In fact, immediately after breaking up the pass, Jones trotted down to the other end of the field to perform his special teams duty for the day.


So, no, there weren't any 100-plus yard returns for Jones like Eddie Kennison or returns á la Billy Cannon on one particular Halloween night. Jones didn't look like Skyler Green back there or even Kevin Faulk. He does look capable of similar feats, however, and proved that the position is most assuredly in good hands when he's fielding kicks.

Tiger Blitz Top Stories